Friday, August 11, 2017

Freezer Needs for Storing Your Home Garden Harvest

So, it’s that time of year again….you home garden needs to be harvested, you’re planning your fall hunting trip, you need to stock up at the grocery store….and you need a new freezer! 
  There are a few things to consider when purchasing your new freezer.  Here are a few questions to answer to help you decide what your freezer needs are:

  1. What types of foods are we putting in this freezer?
  2. How long will the food be in the freezer?
  3. Where will the freezer be located in the home?
  4. Should we get an upright, or a chest freezer?
  5. Frost-free, or manual-defrost?
  6. What size should we get?

    If you are looking for a freezer to use for your regular day-to-day grocery needs, then a frost-free upright unit might be good for you.  These units do not build-up with ice and are best served for the foods that your family will go through on a regular basis. If you are looking for more long-term storage, then a manual-defrost chest type freezer would be best.  These units keep your food deep-frozen, while the unit may build up with ice, your food will not get freezer burned.  When you open a chest freezer, the cold air stays down in the freezer.  When you open an upright freezer, the cold air tends to escape.  Chest freezers can hold a lot of food; however, some may find that keeping an upright freezer makes it easier to organize your groceries.

    If you are going to put your freezer in the garage, make sure that where you put it doesn’t reach below -5 degrees F or above 110 degrees F.  Put it along a joining wall with your home.

A freezer will hold approx 35 lbs of food per cu. Ft., so a 15 cu. ft. chest freezer should store approximately 525 lbs of food.

Chest freezers come in a variety of sizes from 5 cu. ft. all the way up to 25 cu. ft., and range anywhere from $145-$799.

Upright Freezers are usually in the 14-21 cu. ft. size and range between $399 & $899.

Come see your home-town appliance team today so that we can help you pick out the right freezer for your family.  We have standard sizes available, but can special order any size freezer that suits your needs.

Let us know if you have any questions about freezers and storing your food. Leave it in the comments section.

Friday, August 4, 2017

5 School Lunch Ideas for Even the Pickiest Eaters

It’s that time of year again- time to stress out about packing your kids healthy lunches they’ll actually eat! Fear not- we have compiled a list of surefire nutritious meals and snacks that pack up well in a Bento box and have the seal of approval from the pickiest eaters around!

1. DIY “Lunchables”- A healthy spin on the popular but sodium- and preservative-filled pre-made snack boxes, these homespun twists on a kid favorite are sure to win lunch! Some thin-sliced deli ham, turkey or roast beef cut into small squares, thin, square-cut slices of cheddar, gouda or colby jack cheese, a small handful of baked low-salt crackers and a chewy peanut butter and chocolate granola bar will be a fun-to-eat lunch that packs a protein punch!

2. Yogurt Parfait- In a small plastic container, layer fat-free vanilla yogurt, granola, strawberries and blueberries, then repeat the pattern twice. Sprinkle with granola as a garnish, and refrigerate until it’s time to serve. Your child will love the look and taste of this healthy snack! (You can even substitute other fruits for variety. Don’t be afraid to get creative!)

3. PBJ “Sushi” Rolls- Want an exotic twist on a tried-and-true favorite? Make your kids’ peanut butter and jelly sandwich into small, sushi-inspired rolls! Simply cut crusts off of whole-grain bread, slather with peanut butter and grape jelly or strawberry preserves, roll up and cut for a next-level PBJ experience! For extra credit, pack it with disposable chopsticks so your child can have fun trying to pick up the sandwich rolls.

4. “Dippy Picnic”- There’s not much kids love more than eating with their hands. Why not let them go nuts with a “dippy picnic” snack? Pack pretzel rods, apple slices, baby carrots and celery sticks in a Bento box, along with mini containers of peanut butter and hummus. Then let the dipping madness ensue!

5. Go Bananas!- Give your little monkey a delicious, nutritious snack with these tasty, protein-rich banana roll-ups. On a small flour tortilla, spread a layer of peanut butter, then drizzle with Nutella. Roll up a peeled banana, and either cut into small finger-food rolls or give it to your child whole. For an added crunch, use chunky peanut butter for texture!

Any great suggestions for kids’ lunches? Let us know in the comments section!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Kiss Ironing Goodbye with These 5 Great Laundry Tips

Hate to iron clothes? You’re not alone! Pressing blouses, shirts and slacks can be a very tedious, time-consuming process, but you don’t want to be a wrinkled mess at work and it can cost a fortune to have the dry cleaners handle it! What to do? Luckily, we have some tips that can take the wrinkles out of clothes without the assistance of an iron, so you can look great without having to spend a lot of time dealing with them. Now you can enjoy wrinkle-free clothes without the hassle of ironing- everybody wins!

Set a Timer
It can be tempting to load clothes into the dryer, walk away, and forget about it until it’s time to fold. But this method can make clothing even more wrinkled, especially if you’re doing a large load. Set a timer for 20 minutes. When it goes off, pull out all the items you normally would need to iron, and lay them flat to continue drying, or hang them on a drying rack in your laundry room. They’ll be naturally wrinkle-free when you’re done! If you have a connected appliance, you can sink your dryer time to your phone and either stop it at any time or have the alarm go off when your clothes are ready. 

Use Dryer Sheets
Besides the added bonus of making your laundry smell fantastic, dryer sheets can make clothes come out of the dryer less wrinkled by softening the fabric. Nothing could be easier than throwing a dryer sheet into the laundry, and it is a good first step to an ironing-free lifestyle. Try Downy April Fresh dryer sheets for a nice, light scent that is not overpowering.

Release the Wrinkles!
After your clothing has dried, spray it with a wrinkle releaser and hang it in the closet. A wrinkle releaser does just what it says on the label- releases wrinkles by making the fabric hang straight. We like Downy Wrinkle Release in April Fresh, so the scent can match your dryer sheets!

Know When to Fold ‘Em
Leaving your laundry in the basket unfolded after it’s been taken out of the dryer is a great way to get many wrinkles on all your clothes. By folding the laundry the second it comes out of the dryer, you can smooth any wrinkles that would have needed to be ironed out. Bonus: you get to touch nice, warm clothes fresh out of the dryer!

Hang Up
No matter how careful you are with your clothing when you take it out of the dryer, it can all be for nothing if you don’t hang things up as soon as your laundry is done. Let gravity work for you by hanging your items on a hanger to naturally release the wrinkles. This will make your garment look great for a very small amount of work!

Got any more ironing tips (namely, ones that allow you to opt out of ironing)? Let us know in the comments section.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Chocolate Truffle Tarts

Every week I bring you a video recipe and this week I'm in the Jenn-Air kitchen at Contract Appliance to share my favorite dessert, Chocolate Truffle Tart. Don't be intimidated by fresh pie dough, watch my video for tips on how to make, roll and fill pie dough. With a little practice you might find that making pies and tarts to be your go-to dessert.

  • 1 Cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 large egg yolk

Preheat an oven to 325 degrees and position an oven rack in the center.
To prepare tart shell: On a lightly floured work surface; roll out the dough until 1/8 inch thick. Using a large spatula, place into a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing slightly to cover the bottoms and sides. Trim the dough to be flush with the rim and chill for 10 minutes.
Cover shell with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights blind-bake in the oven until pale golden brown, about 15 minutes, and allow to cool.
To prepare tart filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and milk and place on the stove over medium-high heat and bring to a low boil. Remove from the heat; add the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Using a whisk, stir until smooth.
In a small bowl, whisk in the egg with the egg yolk and then whisk in 1/2 cup of the chocolate cream. Thoroughly whisk this custard mixture into the chocolate cream in the saucepan.
Transfer the filling into the prepared tart shell and bake until set around the rim but still slightly jiggles in the center, about 30 minutes.
It’s as easy as 3 2 1
  • 3 - Part Flour
  • 2 - Part Butter
  • 1 - Part Water

This technique is based on a ratio of twice as much flour as fat by weight. The fat is rubbed into flour to create a loose mixture that is then bound using a small amount of ice water, rolled out, then shaped and placed to create the top or bottom of a tart or pie. Using butter adds flavor while using lard ensures optimum texture.

Have a cooking or baking question? Leave it in the comments section and Chef Mark will get back to you!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

3 Back-To-School Organization Tips

It’s hard to believe, but summer vacation is nearly at an end. It’s just a matter of time before the little ones are off to school again for a brand new year! If you’re still catching your breath from the hectic morning rush to get the kids to the bus stop, now may be a good time to tweak your routine so you and the kids can stay a little more organized this school year. For smooth sailing from Day One to Day DONE, here are some of our favorite back-to-school organizational tips. Enjoy!

1. Lay Out a Week’s Worth of Clothes- Save time and a whole lot of drama by skipping the morning “nothing to wear” crisis and planning ahead! Every Sunday, when all the laundry has been done, put together an outfit for each day of the school week, and group them together in your child’s closet. Getting dressed will now be as easy as pulling clothes out of the corresponding day’s drawer or hanger! If your children are older, invite them to help choose their outfits so they have some input.

2. Establish a Good Night Schedule- In order to do their best at school and stay healthy, your kids need at least 10 hours of sleep per night. Check out this handy bedtime chart from Wilson Elementary School to determine an appropriate bedtime for your kids, based on their ages and what time they need to wake up:

3. Keep Everything in One Place- Designate a countertop, small table or desk in your home as the Information Center for all things school-related. This includes your kids’ school calendars, after-school activity schedules, homework, school supplies and permission slips. This all-in-one solution will help you avoid a last-minute dash around the house looking for your child’s homework!

If you have any more organization tips for starting the school year right, we’d love to hear from you- post your comments in the section below!